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Why New Zealand? Here’s why…

The number one question I get asked after making our intent to emigrate known, is why New Zealand?

There are so many reasons, too many to cover in a tweet or Whatsapp message, so I thought I’d document some of the most relevant ones here:

Population Size

I’ve always wanted to live in a small town, or at least a place that has a small town vibe. New Zealand population is below 4.5 million people. The biggest city is Auckland, where we will most likely land up, has a population below 1.4 million people. That’s less than half of Jozi… with a population in excess of 3.2 million people.

Crime

They have a VERY low violent crime rate. On data we’ve viewed, indicated as  Homicide rate per year per 100,000 inhabitants, South Africa has a murder rate of 34, New Zealand has a murder rate of 0.9. More or less the same trend applied for all violent crimes, rape, etc.

Free Education

This is a biggie for us. Ava is in private school, Hannah is in play school, government schools are not an option in our area, currently, childcare (school fees for both girls, aftercare & a full time nanny) costs us in excess of R13 000 per month and Hannah is only in play school, this will increase further when she starts formal education, while we won’t require a full time nanny in more, it will still cost us in the region of R16 000 per month.

Free Medical Care

We’ve had to cancel our medical aid, it simply got too expensive and had to switch to a hospital plan. We couldn’t justify the nearly R7 000 per month medical aid was costing us for a family of four. I’m thankful that we can at least afford a good hostpital plan because, God knows, the level of medical care at government facilities here is scary. I know, I’ve seen it, first hand and was shocked out of my mind the few times I went into Edenvale Hospital and Joburg Gen. Seriously…

MultiCultural Society

As a mixed race family this is a biggie for us. While we know that there is prejudice, racism and imperfection wherever you go, it’s important to us that our daughters grow up in a multicultural society.

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Other reasons include:

Language

Climate – while much colder that South Africa, it still has similar climate to here and isn’t as cold as some of the other countries we’ve considered.

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Culture & Lifestyle- very similar culture to South Africa, very family centered and a great place for kids to grow up. Friendly people, lots of sport and sporting activities.

Laid back lifestyle

Honesty boxes! Yes really! Can you EVER imagine this working here?

Friends – we have a ton of friends there already and a few friends who are in the process of making the move with us & I encourage all of them who are reading this to comment below with your list of reasons as to why you chose New Zealand in case I missed some of the more important ones, because there are just so so so many!

Rugby! Although I will always be a Bok at heart…

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Beauty

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My biggest reason for wanting to go is because I want to feel free. I’m sick of waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat because I can’t remember if we activated the burglar alarm. Of keeping all the security gates locked, even when we’re at home, of having to explain to my 5 year old that if Daddy shouts at her in the middle of the night to stay in her room, she must know that that means not to come out her room and hide under her bed from intruders. Yelling at my kids to close the windows in the car, checking out activity at robots in case we get smashed and grabbed or highjacked. I don’t feel free here, I feel weighed down with constant worry, fear and uncertainty. I just want to feel free, I just want to feel peace.

While I know there is no perfect country, and every country has it’s problems and we’ll simply be swopping one set of problems for another, I feel that the problems I’m forced to deal with on a daily basis in South Africa are problems I don’t want to have to deal with anymore.

Images courtesy of Buzzfeed.

 

 

 

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44 Comments

  • Reply jenty

    It’s a big move! Good luck

    April 23, 2015 at 10:19 am
  • Reply michelle

    In the last four months we have had two sets of friends that have gone to new Zealand and another set that went a year ago and the freedom that they have is incredible. They r all very happy there.

    April 23, 2015 at 10:20 am
  • Reply Jenny

    You will be so so happy there. There are many of us not able to make the move anymore so spare us a thought – I guess semigration to CT is our only option. Everyone I know who has made the move successfully has left the past behind and embraced their new future. Those who felt they were ‘forced’ out often find it hard to adjust. I honestly don’t see it being a tough move at all – I think it’s exciting! Holding thumbs all goes well and v v jealous xxx

    April 23, 2015 at 10:43 am
    • Reply Sharon

      I still think you should try Jen! You may be surprised! I am sad & devastated. And leaving my family & friends behind will be very tough, no doubt the logistics of the whole move too but as for settling there, I have no concerns over that. For my children, this is the right thing to do.

      April 23, 2015 at 10:48 am
      • Reply Jenny

        Our skills are not on any set in Aus or NZ – they were a few years ago but not anymore so our only option is a work visa – which you can imagine is quite tough to get. But keeping the faith. And remember SA isn’t going anywhere – on the NZ dollar you can come have lovely holidays with your mom and dad here from time to time – all the pleasure with none of the pain!

        April 23, 2015 at 10:53 am
  • Reply sarah

    All the best! I’m sure you’ve got lots of mixed emotions (I think about this all the time ) but I hope you and your family settle in well! Xx

    April 23, 2015 at 10:59 am
  • Reply catjuggles

    Best of luck! It’s a huge move

    April 23, 2015 at 11:12 am
  • Reply Lani Kriel Scott

    Where do i begin 🙂 Personally i’ve never been a small town girl, but it grows on you. I absolutely love Wellington, it is a bit smaller than Auckland but in my opinion way more beautiful. I enjoy the smaller population, people are friendlier, they care, they take pride in their work and they are simply helpful. Like any other country you do get the occasional grumpy person. But over all I find NZ a friendly country.

    There is very little crime in NZ. Don’t get me wrong, yes there is crime, but the difference here is, it gets dealt with, and in the right way and immediately. It is simple here, you do not mess with the law, you take it seriously and you obey the rules. That is probably why there is so little crime in the first place.

    There are kindergarten all over NZ, they are really affordable. To give you an idea, Joshua is in a school with no uniform and there is an annual ‘donation’ of $250. That is it! They go on many outings and visits and you don’t even always get charged for that. What i love is, never do I worry if my child is taken care of, and when they go on outings, I know they are in good hands (especially on the busses)

    Although we have free medical care, we still have health insurance, we do have to pay for adults, but can claim about 70% back. Kids under 12 i think is completely free, saying that in NZ they do not give you medicine easily. You need to be really sick to get antibiotics etc, on the other hand, it builds up your immunity and makes you stronger. All still very affordable.

    NZ is very much a multi cultural society, mainly because of the history of the islands. The bulk of the people are South African hahaha! So as a mix race family, you guys should fit right in. It is a relief knowing you can walk in the street at night not watching your back or gripping your pepper spray. It reminds me of the old SA. That is why I think so many South Africans come here.

    Ah the climate in NZ, it is similar to SA, but like you’ve said it is colder. I personally have adjusted nicely in the 3.5 years we have been here. Don’t underestimate the vicious sun here in NZ, you burn twice as fast because of the whole in the ozone layer. But on a good day it is absolutely breathtaking!

    This is my favourite part of NZ, it is simply beautiful, to me its a mix between Capetown and Drakensberg. You need to come experience it for yourself. Can you guys perhaps come for a visit to just get an idea, before you want to make a decision.

    Small things like honesty boxes and parents/family rooms just blew me away. People are so considerate and I always say so trusting. They have no problem trusting a complete stranger. Things are simpler in New Zealand (and believe me I miss the huge malls) but it works like a bloody good oiled machine.

    April 23, 2015 at 11:16 am
    • Reply Sharon

      Thanks for your input Lani! I’ve been to Australia and New Zealand and pretty much our minds are made up, we’ve already started the process and should be done in the next 6 months.

      April 23, 2015 at 11:25 am
    • Reply clayjargirl

      I will echo what Lani says, we also have health insurance, for day to day stuff, but the hospitals are amazing… having had one emergency so far we have experienced it first hand.

      Schools: I can only speak of kindergartens, which is where we are at, but they are amazing… and the government subsidises, so thats fab. We still pay a bit, but that’s because we chose a private Jewish school.
      Cost of living is higher, as many people are so quick to say, but QUALITY of life is so much better. And salaries are comparitively better.
      We live in the city in Wellington, so pay more for things like rent, and such, but Chris works 700m away from the apartment and so we don’t need a car. The kids walk by themselves, and drivers are really aware of pedestrians.

      The Kiwis are sooooo friendly and helpful. Especially towards kids. EVERYTHING is geared towards kids here… I have yet to go somewhere that is NOT kid friendly. Parks are fabulous and safe, and really well cared for.

      The natural beauty is something there are no words for. I LOVE it, and I’m an outdoorsy person… most of the time.

      Climate… its bleddie cold… its autumn now and i’m not someone who gets cold at all, but I am freaking freezing… But then again I hate sweating so that helps…

      The safety, man, walking through the streets with two small children and not worrying that somewhere in the frazzled process of finding keys with groceries and one kid heading for the road, someone may mug me… that is glorious (if that sentence made sense).

      We are totally doing residence as soon as its financially viable… just need to get settled a bit and pay off some crap back in SA. But Lord willing, we will be here for the long haul.

      The only regret is not having family here… and friends.

      April 23, 2015 at 11:45 am
  • Reply Zayaan

    We’re looking to immigrate to New Zealand as well! This process is daunting though. I feel like I could have written this post. My brother in law also lives there.

    April 23, 2015 at 11:34 am
  • Reply Corrina

    Sharon, my late father was a seasoned traveller – a constant nomad and of all the places in the world he visited nothing was more beautiful than New Zealand. Should he have been in a better financial position in his later years, he would have loved to make a new start for him and my mom over there. I am so excited for you and have lots of friends from South Africa who made the move over. No-one has ever looked back on their decision. Oh! and another thing…all of you can learn how to ski in Winter – yay! Knowing you, we might see you competing in a ski competition in a few years time given your drive and energy and competitiveness 🙂 Upwards and onwards. The move is so the right thing to do for the future of your girls. You will always have a spare room for visitors from home and who knows, some might never want to go back once they get a taste of the freedom of not having to look behind their backs every minute of every day. The countdown begins and with it so does a new journey for all of you along the road of life. You are living it!

    April 23, 2015 at 11:37 am
  • Reply ailsaloudon

    Good luck. It’s the right thing to do! When I was on holiday in England and Sotland, I couldn’t believe how much the sense of safety and security affected me. No high fences and the freedom!!

    April 23, 2015 at 6:58 pm
  • Reply lisab809

    Sharon I started to tear up when I read the part about you having to prep your kids in the event of an intruder. Since being in NZ, scenario’s like that never even enter our heads and it made me realise that had we stayed in SA we would be telling our boys the same thing and that makes me so sad and angry all at the same time. Kids shouldn’t have to live like that.

    On a lighter note I agree with everything that has been posted about NZ. Our reasons for choosing NZ were varied. We love the sense of community. We love that you have a voice, the government wants to know what the people think and feel, councils want community input. Yes it may not always be taken on board but at least you can have your say and as a collective you may just be able to change things within your community or country.

    The freedom is amazing. We lived in the city when we first moved and I was able to walk the streets alone with a toddler and feel 100% safe. Our house backs onto a reserve and we have no fence so we are totally accessible and yet we sleep soundly. No one is surprised that we dont have a fence, in fact people are astounded that we would even think of putting up one.

    Service here is great even though the kiwi’s would disagree. People take pride in their jobs and have a genuine willingness to help. We also found that in general people are down to earth and are not worried about what job you do, how much you earn, what car you drive etc.

    We live in the Wellington region but are an hour out of the city and my husband catches the train into work everyday. Public transport is amazing and works efficiently.

    There are loads of free family events and activities that enjoying a weekend out doesnt have to break the bank. Weather is not always predictable but the Kiwi’s never let that get them down. You dress for the weather and you get on with it. No reason to not go outside and enjoy the beauty.

    There really is just so many great things about NZ and so many reasons we chose it as our new home. I could write pages..lol.

    On the flip side there are things that can be a bit frustrating. We have found the cost of living to be higher than when we were in SA. Our quality of life is definitely 1000% better but we have learned to simplify our needs, which in itself can be quite a positive.

    Medical care is free or has a small cost attached, but sometimes waiting on referrals for certain conditions can take time depending on the urgency of it.

    The distance from family can be difficult at times as you adjust to not having that support system around you. But you make new friends and you build yourself a new ‘family’ . I would say this is the most difficult part of the journey.

    Hope that all made sense. Sorry for rambling on. Wishing you guys all the best on your new adventure. Just keep your eye on the prize 🙂

    April 23, 2015 at 9:37 pm
  • Reply SuzannaCatherine

    I live in the USA and, if I could, I would relocate to NZ in a heartbeat.

    I am sorry that life has become so unlivable in SA. It has to be such a difficult thing – to leave all that is familiar. I totally understand your desire to move for the sake of your children. They are the future and they deserve to live in peace and freedom.

    I actually have a first cousin who moved to Australia with her family as a child in the 50s. As an adult she moved to NZ to work, married a native (Maori) New Zealander. She is now a widow and lives near Palmerston North on the southern end of the North Island, which is about an hour and a half drive from Wellington. She has always loved NZ and wouldn’t live anywhere else even though she has a brother in Australia (Perth) and a sister in Arizona (Phoenix).

    I do wish you and your family an easy transition to your new life. I know it will be hard, but as others have said it will be so worth it.

    Sending you prayers for a safe (and speedy) journey.

    April 24, 2015 at 7:27 am
  • Reply Pandora

    We considered NZ or Australia at one point, but our biggest issue is that our immediate family is already spread across 3 countries. So logistically, living in NZ would make it so difficult to see everyone. Flights are not cheap. So we have decided to make our move to Ireland eventually. We all have European citizenship, and we have a lot of family around Europe. At the end of the day, being close to family was the most important decision for us. The language is also a bonus, and we will still be able to come to SA easily. It’s very sad to have to make this decision, we would rather have just moved to Cape Town eventually, but we do have to think of our child, what is her future here? I don’t want to have to teach her all these safety tips, in case we get hijacked, or someone breaks in. I have to turn the news off in the car, and dread the day she can read the headlines all along the road. Those are difficult questions to answer to a 6 year old.
    In no way do we expect this to be an easy move or that we will love everything about living in another country. We will hate the cold and the constant rain, but there are more important things than the weather.
    Hope you application goes smoothly and quickly.

    April 24, 2015 at 8:02 am
  • Reply Lea White

    We have been in New Zealand since 2004. Have lived in both Auckland and Wellington twice. Both cities have good points and both cities will have more negative aspects. New Zealand is home to us. It is safe. People are more tolerant of each other, it is a fairer system to apply for jobs and I have seen many more mixed race families here and this is definitely pretty well accepted. Some things here are definitely more expensive, but others much cheaper. Daycare was more expensive when my kids went, rent / saving up for a house deposit is more expensive,but school is much cheaper and no very long lines to enrol them. Unlike South Africa, I am really happy with the public schooling system and never felt that I had to consider private schooling. Neither of my kids get as much homework as the kids in South Africa seem to get – one is in her last year of primary and the other in Year 4. With Bianca’s health situation, the public hospital system was great. We had minimal cost in her cancer treatment and I have no idea how much her treatment would have come to, so am thankful for the service we received. But you do pay costs to GPs (and dentists for adults are expensive) so it might be worth having some medical insurance anyway. Service delivery is great and people complain if there are 10 people in the queue ahead of them. The safety is the biggest thing for me. The fact that we can go for walks, play in the park, happily take public transport, leave the door and windows open until we go to bed. Make no mistake, crime does happen. Even violent crime and there are gangs around in some areas, but for most of it for us it feels like an “if” rather than a “when” as it was in South Africa. We love being close to the beach. At the moment we live about 10 – 15 minute walk from the beach and no matter where you live you will be no further than 1.5 hours from the nearest beach. It is much colder than South Africa, but you get used to it (quicker than you think). Starting over is never easy, but it is mindset. Any place you go to will have things that might not be that great and there will be things you will miss from South Africa, but if you come for the right reasons and you are 100% committed to making it work, it will work out and before you know it, this will feel like home. New Zealand is beautiful, it is great not to have all the crowds. I love that my kids grow up in a society where people accept each other more. I love the safety. All the very best with your arrangements Sharon! It won’t be easy, but it is well worth it! And remember I get to take photos if you come to where I live 🙂

    April 25, 2015 at 5:42 am
  • Reply Correen Gertzen

    All of the best with your move! We considered it ourselves about 5 years ago, but stopped halfway through the process, mostly due to the quarantine requirements for our dogs and cat. (It sounds stupid I know, but our older female had health problems and we are convinced would not have survived the months in quarantine, and it would have been very hard on my young male who is a working dog and used to running every day). And also leaving my parents behind, as they are unable to do international flights due to ill health. Maybe one day, who knows…

    All of the best and wishing you well!

    April 29, 2015 at 5:15 pm
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